West Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau Hosts Girls’ Empowerment Meetings

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Front row, seated (Llto R): Daniela Tamayo, Kassandra Lopez-Flores. Middle Row: Lizeth Marquez, Kylah Fowler, Jimena Gutierrez, Emaiah Ramirez, Marlen Gachupin, Olivia Licata, Kyli Smith. Back Row: Carolyn Winzer, Alicia Carrillo, Marena Brown, Keyla Gonzalez, Jackie Marston, Pam Bilbo, Glenda Roberts, Lydia Stewart-Warner, Sariya Lyons, Helen Smith Deloris Washington, Michelle Milam. Photo by Joe L. Fisher.

Most people will agree that children gain a sense of self by interacting with their peers in healthy emotional environments. A collaborative of county, city, community and faith-based organizations did just that by hosting a Tea Party for girls age 9-11 as the school year kicked off on Aug. 21.

For three consecutive Wednesdays, the girls gathered for the Tea Party.
In this fun-filled learning environment set-up for afternoon tea with a ‘Duchess’ and friends, these little princesses were served healthy snacks, engaged in hands-on arts and crafts projects and learned how to journal their thoughts and feelings to enhance their reading and writing skills.

At the same time they were gaining important tools for social skills development as well as learning about how afternoon tea began in 1840. The girls were served tea in vintage tea cups and got hands-on experience in common etiquette. The sessions ran from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the last one was held on Sept. 4.

Marena Brown of West Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau was the Tea Party hostess. The first Tea & Me gathering started with “Self-Care & Self Esteem,” facilitated by Carolyn Winzer, of Carolyn’s Creation.

The second gathering was called the “Ten Commandments of Everyday Etiquette,” facilitated by Lydia Stewart-Warner, of Stewart’s Rose Manor Funeral Home. The third gathering was on “Bullying” facilitated by Michelle Milam of the City of Richmond Crime Prevention Department.

“It is our mission of service to ensure that collaboration continues to happen,” said Taalia Hasan, CEO of WCCYSB for 35 years. “We are thankful to our community partners that donated beautiful, elegant, vintage tea cups and saucers for all the little princesses to take home along with their bags of goodies,” she said.

The ‘goodies’ were hand creams, place settings, back-to-school pouches, their framed photos, calendars, straw hats, embellished mirrors, jewelry, devotional books and personal journals. The girls and their parents have requested that WCCYSB continue hosting these educational and powerful “Tea and Me Gatherings,” Hasan said.

The team consisted of: Carolyn Winzer, Lydia Stewart-Warner, Rochelle Monk-Polk, Pamela Hampton, and Michelle Milam; City of Richmond, Deloris Washington, Sisters of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Sisters of Davis Chapel CME Church, Pam Bilbo of Men & Women of Valor, Jackie Marston, retired art teacher of WCCUSD; staff of WCCYSB; Naima Walls-Johnson, Onna Alexander, Glenda Roberts, Alicia Carrillo, Michele Jackson, Taalia Loggins-Yates, Andrea Moore-Williams, Jeanette Milanes, Claudia Montoya-Mejia, Maria Rodriquez, and the parents and grandparents of the girls.

“We never take these opportunities in serving our community for granted,” Hasan said.

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